I really enjoy being back in Williamsburg for the summer, and even though the campus is not quite as bustling as it normally is, I have been able to relish in the quietude as a reprieve from the chaos of the last couple months. You see, I spent last semester abroad in Germany, and in the last 2 months alone, I have backpacked through Italy, celebrated my birthday in Rome, took final exams for all my classes, participated in a Model EU conference, moved out of my apartment, taken my parents on a trip through Germany, flew home, took a Memorial Day trip to the beach, and used the time since to get settled into my new home in Williamsburg. As you can imagine, after all that I really do enjoy the slower pace that W&M moves at over the summer.
However, the campus is not entirely empty, and the pace is not all that slow. Plenty of students come back to campus to take classes, conduct research with professors, or continue with local jobs or internships. I was presently surprised at how many of my friends ended up in the Williamsburg area for at least part of the summer. And there are still plenty of things to do around town as we hit high tourist season, and the dellys, our local student hotspots, still see a respectable crowd on the weekends.
But back to the quietude, and one of my favorite things to do over the summer; go to the beach. Coming from the sandy shores of Lake Michigan, I need to get my beach fix over the summer, and fortunately, the Williamsburg area has plenty of options. The closest and most popular choice is College Creek, which is about 5 minutes away by car. It is a simple trip south on the leafy Colonial Parkway, and actually makes for a nice 3 to 4 mile run from campus (be forewarned, that is each way) if you are feeling ambitious. Right on the James River, College Creek has a nice sandbar, and is very popular for W&M students, so it seems like I will always see someone I know there.
The next closest option is the Yorktown beach, right on the York River near its mouth at the Chesapeake. It is the opposite direction on the Colonial Parkway, and takes a little bit longer, usually about 20 minutes by car. For history buffs, Yorktown is the site of Cornwallis’ surrender in the Revolutionary War and a Civil War battlefield too, and many of the historical sites are right off the beach, which is bigger and sandier than College Creek. Added bonuses include the quiet shops and eateries that line the brick boardwalk, making Yorktown an easy place to spend an afternoon or a day.
A more ambitious day trip also popular amongst students is the 75-minute drive down to Virginia Beach. Virginia Beach is a much more popular tourist destination, as its oceanfront provides endless entertainment in the form of bars, restaurants, concerts, beach-based sport competitions, and just plain old people watching. However, its beach is by far the best in the area, even though Virginia Beach’s main attraction is decidedly not the beach, but the bustling boardwalk instead. There are plenty of ways to kill an afternoon in Virginia Beach, and it is often worth the extra time on the highway if you prefer the oceanfront.
No matter where you decide to go, it is easy to get your beach fix in the Williamsburg area. And the nice part about going to school here, is that beach weather often sticks around well into the fall, and comes pretty early in the spring, which makes for a good breather from academic life. Either way, take advantage of the sandy opportunities around you, and chances are you just might find me relaxing out in the summer sun.